National survey: Gays, lesbians, bisexuals suffer more health and psychological problems

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June 28, 2016

By Andrew M. Seaman

Gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals reported more health problems than straight men and women, in a large U.S. survey.

Significantly greater health and stress issues.

Significantly greater health and stress issues.

For the first time since its launch in 1957, the National Health Interview Survey in 2013 and 2014 included a question about sexual orientation. With nearly 69,000 participants, the survey revealed that lesbian, gay and bisexual adults “were more likely to report impaired physical and mental health, heavy alcohol consumption, and heavy cigarette use. … Overall, 67,150 survey respondents were heterosexual, 525 lesbian, 624 gay and 515 bisexual. The average age was about 47.

Gilbert Gonzales of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville and colleagues found that compared to heterosexual women, lesbians were 91 percent more likely to report poor or fair health. Lesbians were 51 percent more likely, and bisexual women were more than twice as likely, to report multiple chronic conditions, compared to straight women.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual people were also more likely than heterosexuals to report heavy drinking and smoking. While gays and lesbians reported worse psychological distress than heterosexuals, bisexual people suffered the most, the survey showed.

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